Ohio Nurses with Narcotic Restrictions: You CANNOT Observe Waste

A nurse who is the subject of a disciplinary action by the Ohio Board of Nursing may, in certain instances, have one or more restrictions placed on their nursing license.  One type of restriction is a narcotics restriction.

Although the language of a narcotic restriction can and does vary depending on the facts and circumstances of each case, the Ohio Board of Nursing’s narcotic restriction typically provides:

“Unless otherwise approved in advance, in writing, by the board or its’ designee, NURSE shall not administer, have access to, or possess (except as prescribed for NURSE’s use by another so authorized by law who has received a complete copy of this Consent Agreement prior to prescribing for NURSE) any narcotics, other controlled substances, or mood-altering drugs in which NURSE is working in a position that requires a nursing license. In addition, NURSE shall not possess or carry any work keys for locked medication carts, cabinets, drawers, or containers. NURSE shall not count narcotics. NURSE shall not call in or order prescription refills for narcotics, other controlled substances, or mood-altering drugs.”

As stated noted above, a nurse with a narcotics restriction may not count narcotics.  Counting narcotics includes, but is not limited to, observing the waste of unused narcotics by another nurse because observing waste is considered part of the counting process.  If you have a narcotics restriction on your license, you may not observe waste and you should ensure that your employer is aware that your narcotic restriction prohibits you from observing waste before you are in a situation where you are asked to witness another nurse wasting.

Narcotic restrictions can be permanent or temporary.  If the narcotic restriction is permanent, the nurse must comply with the narcotic restriction on a permanent basis, unless the narcotic restriction includes the language, “Unless otherwise approved in advance, in writing, by the board or is designee”.  This language permits the nurse to request the Nursing Board’s approval for a specific exception to the permanent narcotic restriction.

If the narcotic restriction is temporary, the nurse must comply with the narcotic restriction during their entire probationary period or, in certain cases, for a shorter period.  If the temporary narcotic restriction includes the language, “Unless otherwise approved in advance, in writing, by the board or its’ designee”, the nurse may request the Nursing Board’s approval for a specific exception to the temporary narcotic restriction.

As always, if you have questions about this post or the Ohio Board of Nursing, contact one of the attorneys at Collis Law Group LLC at (614) 486-3909 or contact me at beth@collislaw.com.

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Ohio Nursing Board Investigations

A person may report to the Ohio Board of Nursing (“Nursing Board”) information the person has that appears to show a violation of a Nursing Board law or rule. The Nursing Board is required to investigate evidence that appears to show a violation of a Nursing Board law or rule.

The Nursing Board employs investigators who are located throughout Ohio. Each complaint received by the Board is assigned to an investigator. The investigator collects and reviews documents and interviews relevant parties.

In most instances, the investigator will also contact the nurse who is the subject of a complaint by phone, email, or correspondence and request the nurse to meet or speak with the investigator to address the concerns in a complaint or to give their “side of the story.”

In Ohio, a nurse’s participation in a Nursing Board investigation is voluntary, however, any information provided to the investigator may be used against the nurse in a Nursing Board disciplinary action.

Further, Ohio Revised Code Section 9.84 provides in part that a person who appears as a witness before any Nursing Board representative in an administrative investigation shall be permitted to be represented and advised by an attorney, and that the person shall be advised of the right to counsel before they are interrogated. We have seen printed on the back of a Nursing Board investigator’s business card the following statement:

“I have been advised by the OBN Agent that (i) I have the right to have an attorney present (per 9.84, ORC) and (ii) my interview is voluntary.”

However, in the stress of meeting with a Nursing Board investigator, a nurse might not take the time to read the card, and, even if they do read the card, they might feel uncomfortable requesting to postpone the meeting after they obtain legal counsel.

It is recommended to request and obtain legal counsel before speaking with or responding in writing to a Nursing Board investigator. Often, nurses are concerned that it will appear that they are hiding something or are uncooperative if they first obtain legal counsel. This is not the case. There are circumstances where it is advisable for a nurse and their legal counsel to meet with a Nursing Board investigator. Legal counsel can assist with protecting your rights, narrowing the issues, and providing guidance concerning the process.

It is also important to note that any information obtained by a Nursing Board investigator can be shared with local law enforcement if information is obtained that appears to show that a nurse has violated a criminal or other law outside of the Nursing Board’s jurisdiction.

As always, if you have a question about this post or the Ohio Board of Nursing in general, please feel free to contact one of the attorneys at the Collis Law Group LLC at 614-486-3909 or email me at beth@collislaw.com.

Disclosures to the Ohio Board of Nursing

There are certain matters which must be disclosed to the Ohio Board of Nursing (“Board”) by a nurse license applicant or a nurse who is renewing their license.
The Board’s nurse license application and renewal application includes, but is not limited to, questions concerning felonies, certain misdemeanors, incompetency, professional licensure actions or investigations, mental illness, and substance abuse.
If the reply to any of the questions in the nurse license or renewal application is “yes”, then a disclosure is required. The applicant or nurse in renewal must mark “yes” to any applicable question and provide the Board a written statement of the circumstances underlying the “yes” reply and, for Court matters, Certified copies of certain court documents.
The Board is authorized to take disciplinary action against an applicant or licensee for any of the matters in Ohio Revised Code Section 4723.28. The sanction, if any, the Nursing Board imposes will depend on the individual facts and circumstances of the disclosed matter. Whether the applicant or nurse has other convictions, the acts underlying the offense, how long ago the offense occurred, and whether restitution or probationary terms were completed are typically also evaluated by the Board.

 
Except for certain limited instances, self-reporting criminal convictions prior to renewal is not required. However, criminal convictions are reported by the Court to the Board and it is recommended that a nurse consult with legal counsel to determine if it is in the nurse’s interest to self-report a conviction prior to renewal.
It is recommended to consult with legal counsel familiar with Board matters to determine if disclosure of a particular matter is required in an initial or renewal application and, if so, what information is required or recommended to be provided to the Board.
As always, if you have a question about this post or the Ohio Board of Nursing in general, please feel free to contact one of the attorneys at the Collis Law Group LLC at 614-486-3909 or email me at beth@collislaw.com.